- Gnolls are thought by many to be greedy, conniving bottom-dwellers, subsisting on the leavings and trash of others. It has been said that they are, to the last man, a race of opportunist thieves, merely waiting for the right moment to turn on their neighbors and take everything they can grab. These things are – or were – more or less true, but it is important to remember that it was the Gnolls’ starved homeland that made them such. Who can say whether a Gnoll given a fair shake in life and a small patch of earth to call his own would not be as civil as any other race?
- Actually, the Gnolls can say that. Freed from their fungal prison by the Convergence, most Gnolls have wasted no time in claiming their own turf, often to extraordinarily grandiose extent. They have also found their skulking talents to be extremely handy in acquiring new things they never knew existed before, even if those things do not belong to them per se.
- Ultimately, though, Gnolls tend to be reasonably simple people. Given enough food – an absolute wonder to many Gnolls, some of whom were shocked and awed by the mere sensation of being well-fed – and a place to lay his or her head, the average modern Gnoll is a friendly, easygoing sort. They’re excellent trackers, hold a strong half-tribal, half-educated Primalist tradition, and prove adept at many crafts. Although their wandering packs are looked upon somewhat dimly by most city-dwellers, sometimes invoking dire mutterings about mangy, scavenging animals and the like, few have cause to complain about the services they provide.
- But if disaster strikes, and food supplies start getting low – low even by Gnoll standards, which gladly include rotting meat and many forms of lichen – well… you might consider watching your pack a little more carefully than usual. If things get really bad… watch your back as well. Most Gnolls are survivalists above all, and while this comes in handy in carving out a home in the new world, it can place them at odds with others on occasion.
- Gnolls also have a strong sense of loyalty to their pack-mates; most Gnolls will go to any length to defend their kin. Combine this with their crappy former homeland and it is easy to see where their us-versus-them, take-no-prisoners attitude came from. This is handy for any leader who can inspire Gnolls into believing in them, for this is often a shortcut to being considered one of the family.
- Speaking of family, Gnolls breed quickly and age fast. Gnoll women can give birth to upwards of five pups at once, and their high metabolic rate and rapid aging process sees them fully physically developed by age nine. They traditionally become an adult on their tenth birthday. Mentally, they do tend to take a bit longer, but by the age of twelve or fifteen, most Gnolls are about as mentally apt as a human or elf several years older. They do pay for this with an unusually short lifespan, however; without medical care, most Gnolls only live to about forty. One of the unmitigated boons of the Convergence is to the Gnoll lifespan: not only are they no longer subject to the myriad diseases and fungal assaults that killed many of their young, but they now have access to magical and technologically-advanced medical care. Their natural lifespans have thus improved to upwards of sixty.
- Gnoll stats are found in some odd edition of Dragon magazine, which I actually own a copy of but cannot be bothered to haul out and list here. If anyone’s interested in playing one, let me know and I’ll dig it up for you. Please disregard all of the savagery-related fluff text.
- Gnolls are pretty much medium sized. They’re a little broad in the shoulder and narrow at the hip, but will fit into most anything easily enough. And that does include that tiny hole in your root cellar you thought you’d blocked off before you realized that all of your smoked ham had suddenly vanished overnight.
Wonderful. Did we get a stray wandering in from the street, or did someone leave you here? Oh! Young one! My apologies, I didn’t recognize you. Well, I’m sure your keen nose and, ah, low standards will come in handy, especially compared to those too proud to get their hands – or should I say paws? – dirty. In any event, if you’ve made your choice, please decide on an occupation to pursue as an adult. If not, please return to Worlds or Sentient Beings.